Well, you can’t have an overrated list without having a underrated one to go along with it.
Trouble is, there is way more money to be made to the downside in this business. Meaning, fading an overvalued team is way more lucrative than figuring out the right way to use a underrated one. Nonetheless, there are ways. Here we’ll explore three.
Our guidelines were explicit when picking the most overrated teams. They had to be highly ranked and priced very expensively in terms of season win totals and other futures propositions. Same thing but in the opposite way with our most underrated teams.
Teams ranked in the opening top 25 are eliminated from consideration, as are teams with season win totals of seven or more. That definitely dwindles the field but at the same time also ensures we’ll have plenty of value if used properly.
For the past several seasons, the Cougars have been done in by a lack of something that the program used to be known for and that’s good quarterback play.
Part of that was the horrific game planning and play calling of former offensive coordinator Ty Detmer, who strangely, despite being a prolific passer himself, took the offense back to the stages. Head coach Kalani Sitake is also to blame for that. BYU simply cannot be a smash-mouth team against a rugged independent schedule. The coaching staff has apparently figured that out.
The other issue was the Cougars just simply didn’t have upper-echelon talent at quarterback. That appears to be changing with sophomore Zach Wilson, who flashed signs of being a good one last season as a true freshman. Wilson has now had a full offseason in second-year offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes’ system and it should show. There’s also ample talent in both the running back and receiver positions.
BYU has been a tricky proposition betting-wise the past several years. Case in point was 2018 when the Cougars were good enough to post outright wins as double-digit underdogs against Arizona and Wisconsin. But just when bettors start to warm up to them, they get stung, i.e. like when BYU lost, 7-6, to Northern Illinois, as a 7-point home favorite last season. Or when they laid four at UMass in 2017 and managed just a touchdown and a field goal in a 16-10 loss.
The way to play BYU is quite honestly when nobody is looking. The Cougars are 20-8 ATS as away underdogs the last 10 years and should have some juicy opportunities to relish that role again this season. Their Week 2 game at Tennessee comes immediately to mind.
How to play it: bet on as road underdog.
In what now seems a far memory, the Buffaloes bolted to a 5-0 start last season before proceeding to lose every game the rest of the way. It seems the end is what people remember and not the beginning. But there were reasons for the collapse, the biggest being a season-ending injury to star receiver Laviska Shenault.
We’ve sat back and grinned the entire summer while everyone has slept on the Buffs. But make no mistake, this team has a big chance to make amends and be a pretty nice product come bowl season.
Shenault is back. Quarterback Steven Montez, who is solid but not spectacular, is also back. The school hired former Georgia assistant Mel Tucker to be the head coach and he’s smartly given the reins of the offense to what appears to be a three-headed coaching monster at offensive coordinator. Extreme tempo is promised the weapons are in place to pull it off.
Although Colorado returns only four starters on defense, Tucker should improve the overall numbers. Remember, starters lost at a program like this are not a huge deal because the talent level gaps from year to year aren’t vast. So what you’ll have is basically the same talent level but this time with a coach who knows something about defense. We expect some improvement there.
Don’t forget that before things started to swoon last season, Colorado had posted a road win at Nebraska and home wins over Arizona St. and UCLA. All three of those teams are now priced infinitely higher in the season total wins market than the Buffaloes. But we don’t think they’re that far apart. And last season, Colorado was flat better.
The Buffs have a season wins total of four. It’s not impossible to think they could reach that mark before September is over. All you’d be asking them to do is beat Air Force and three teams they beat last season.
How to play it: OVER 4 wins.
The Bruins present a difficult challenge for those who are bullish on them. They also provide a reminder that every team we feel good about should have those feelings reflected in futures bets. Sometimes the better idea is to simply wait for spots during the season.
The above appears to be a good strategy with UCLA because the Bruins play a simply treacherous and their widely used season win total of 6 is going to be hard to eclipse no matter how right we are about this team being markedly better.
The consensus is that UCLA will play one of the toughest schedules in the country. We can’t disagree. However, we think they’re up for it. It doesn’t take a genius to see there will be improvement in Chip Kelly’s second season. It doesn’t take a genius to expect that a quarterback who was thrown to the wolves as true freshman will be much better in Year 2 of college and Year 2 of a new coach’s system.
Our excitement over UCLA isn’t because we think the talent level has gone way up. In reality, it’s probably only a notch better than last year, but the experience factor is huge in so many key spots. It has to when a team has 19 returning starters.
This team is capable of beating anybody on its schedule. The trouble might be stringing along wins. If you can find the Bruins at 10-1 to win the Pac-12 west, then we’d suggest playing it for half of a peanut (very small bet). Hopefully your luck in finding that offering is better than ours.
How to play it: bet on as underdog.